When Barriere Construction Co. brought its new Stansteel dual-drum counterflow 400-tph hot mix asphalt plant on line in January 1999, the goal of making the facility a reliable, high-production operation was clearly stated by company management, and a continuous improvement process has kept it that way ever since.
The company, which operates four divisions serving asphalt production/paving, concrete paving, utility site preparation and construction, and commercial concrete structural and foundation work, generates $100 million in annual revenue, with asphalt production/paving representing 60 percent of its business.
The Boutte operation represents 60 percent of Barriere's asphalt business, with 90 percent of total HMA production used to support three paving crews and the other 10 percent sold to retail customers. Daily production runs between 1,000 and 3,000 tons. The plant has five 250-ton silos, with a sixth silo scheduled to be brought on-line by the first of the year. The plant also went from seven to 10 cold-feed bins to improve productivity with the many mix designs required to fill daily orders.
"We run numerous mix designs on a daily basis to fill the needs of our customers. So in order to maintain the production levels we want coming out of the plant, we've invested in storage capacity (silos) and material handling (cold-feed bins) to limit interruptions when switching from one mix design to another," says Bert Wilson, senior vice president in charge of the Boutte operation. "With the different materials (aggregates) required for the mix designs specified by our customers, we decided to invest in more cold-feed bins rather than stop production to empty bins to accommodate different materials."
While most of Barriere's asphalt customers have adopted mix designs specified by the Louisiana Department of Transportation Development, it's not uncommon for individual customers, whether they're government agencies at the local parish (county) level or private commercial accounts, to request a slight variation to the approved LDOT designs. Customers tend to stick with mix designs they've used for years and they're reluctant to switch to a recommended alternative.
"We try to match the mix design for the application it's intended to serve," Wilson says. "If it's a Level 3 Superpave design, we know the mix has to accommodate a heavy traffic load and provide a long service life. But we also know we're dealing with a lot of individual customers who have their own opinions of what works for them, and so we maintain the materials to accommodate approximately 30 different mix designs."
Since much of Barriere's quality aggregate is shipped by barge from a Kentucky quarry, the company maintains approximately 25,000 tons of aggregate at its Boutte facility. Maintaining such a large inventory of raw material is part of the company's commitment to managing a reliable asphalt production facility.
Total Process Reliability
When Barriere invested in its Boutte Stansteel plant, the company's intent was to replace several other area production facilities as well as accommodate future growth.
"At the time, we made a commitment to buy the best and maintain it to be a reliable, high-production facility," Wilson says. "At about the same time, we initiated our Total Process Reliability (TPR) program, which evaluates the life cycle of each component in order to determine when to replace a component before it fails."
Shortly after the plant was brought on-line, Kevin Ervin, operations manager, joined the company, and he has been instrumental in making the TPR program a reality.
"My goal in coming here was to make this a production line-type of facility," Ervin says. "The company wanted this facility to be the backbone of its asphalt operation, and I was given the responsibility of operating and maintaining a reliable, high-production facility at this location."